Love and Endurance: A Historic Swim Across Chile's Majestic Lake Llanquihue

Love and Endurance: A Historic Swim Across Chile’s Majestic Lake Llanquihue

In the stunning backdrop of Lago Llanquihue, Chile’s largest lake known for its beauty and capricious conditions, Lauren Tininenko and Nicolas Johanssen, a couple united by their love for swimming, embarked on a remarkable journey across this majestic lake, each marking their own unique achievements in open water swimming. Lake Llanquihue, located in southern Chile has a particularly the iconic view of Volcán Osorno, a stratovolcano. As Chile’s largest lake and the fourth largest in South America, it boasts a rich geological history. The remnants of the last ice age are even evident in the moraine systems that surround the lake and provide a unique landscape that was shaped by glacial activity.

Lauren Tininenko’s Ratified Marathon Swim

Lauren Tininenko undertook her swim aiming to set a precedent in Chilean waters. The straight-line distance is 27 km over a course stretching from Las Cascadas to Frutillar. It took her 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 5 seconds to complete the swim; she swam 35,489 meters adhering strictly to the traditional standards of marathon swimming, Lauren’s gear included a Rocket Science Sports tie-back one-piece swimsuit, without the aid of a wetsuit or buoyancy devices. On the day of the swim, the water temperatures ranged from 16.4°C to a slightly warmer 17.0°C, with minimal wind speeds of 0 to 1 on the Beaufort scale, and air temperatures between 9°C and 16°C, setting a challenging yet manageable stage for her achievement.

Lauren describes her transformative experience:

“Lago Llanquihue is the biggest inland lake in Chile, and it is famous for its beauty, but also for its unpredictable conditions. It is so big that you normally can’t see to the other side, and it often looks like an ocean because of its big waves. For these reasons, nobody had ever attempted to swim across it. In doing this swim, I wanted to prove that it was possible, but also to inspire open water swimmers across the country to attempt big swims and achieve what others thought was impossible. From the reactions I have received since completing the swim, it worked. This swim was harder than anything I have attempted before. I have swam the English Channel, but in this swim, I felt that the water was colder and there were parts of it that felt like I was not progressing forward. Even maybe moving backwards. I felt so exhausted towards the end that I had never been so ready for something to be finished. However, finishing it and getting up on land felt so much more rewarding since I had to endure so much pain to complete it. I am excited for this swim to be known on a worldwide scale to help put Chile on the map of marathon swimming.”

Nicolas Johanssen’s Certified Assisted Swim

Parallel to Lauren, Nicolas Johanssen’s swim was officially certified, acknowledging his use of assistive equipment including a Deboer Ocean 1.0 Wetsuit 5mm and neoprene cap, which supported him through the same course alongside Lauren. His time matched Lauren’s at 13:04:05, with synchronized efforts and shared resolve. Nicolas’s swim also observed by Gloria Isaac and was documented thoroughly to ensure transparency and adherence to prescribed standards.

Nicolas reflects on his journey:

“3.5 years ago I met Lauren, an incredible swimmer and athlete who is now my wife. Our first date was in a 50m pool, which back then was a distance I couldn’t finish in one go.. a huge challenge which only led to one conclusion. If I wanted to stay with her I needed to train a lot to be able to survive in the water. I’m Chilean and since a kid I’ve been amazed by the beautiful and diverse nature of Chile. The lake region in the south of Chile has been my favorite to go place and the Llanquihue lake, which is the biggest within Chilean territory, has terrified but amazed me from the beginning. The crystal clear water, beautiful colors of the surrounding nature and views to the volcano can make a huge contrast to its scary moments of strong unexpected winds and big waves. Crossing this lake for the first time in history would show people in Chile and the world that the impossible is there to be challenged. With the right planning and commitment this swim could be done and nothing would be better than finishing it side by side with my wife. We succeeded and with this I hope will attract new open water swimmers of the globe to enjoy the beautiful waters of Chile and motivate other people to look for their own challenges in life.”

Both swimmers followed the same nutrition schedule during their swim, beginning with a fast for the first hour to adjust to the water, followed by regular intervals of electrolyte-infused hot water paired with nuts, protein bars, and eventually to homemade banana bread and peanut butter sandwiches, with the final feeds swapped to Pepsi for a quick sugar boost.

Both swimmers were observed by Gloria Isaac, a seasoned marathon swimmer who recently completed Tolten Wolf International 25k, who safeguarded the authenticity and adherence to strict guidelines. The swim was supported by a pilots Jorge Sepulveda Ucheras and Luis Saldivia in Navy boat, PM “Defender” from home port Puerto Varas, Chile, complete with a medic, Diego Guarda Toledo; Jan Hornig, responsible for feeding; and Andres Ramirez, who acted as the mechanic, maintaining the boat’s operations throughout the swim.

Their courageous swim across Lake Llanquihue — the power of a shared dream — proved that no challenge is too great when faced with determination and boundless love. Their journey hopefully elevates Chile’s majestic lake on the world stage and ignites a spark in all of us to chase the impossible.

Full documentation is available upon request.